Nure-Onna, a water serpent spirit from coastal Northern Japan, sits on the beach during storms, washing her long hair. Her name means “wet woman” allegedly in reference to her hair. She is a feared spirit. Traditionally, fishermen and shore-dwellers dreaded her appearance. She is physically very powerful and may be able to flatten trees with her tail. She also swims extremely fast.
Nure-Onna’s motivations are subject for speculation. Some say that she deliberately preys on people. Others suggest that she isn’t particularly malevolent. She’s just solitary and extremely goal-oriented. Nure-Onna comes ashore with a purpose. She wants to eat and she wants to wash her hair and she wants to be left alone. She becomes enraged and violent if disturbed, interrupted, or thwarted. Given the opportunity, just stay out of her way. Nure-Onna allegedly prefers a diet of entrails, presumably that of sea creatures, but some stories suggest that she has a taste for humans, too.
According to legend, Nure-Onna, like Yuki-Onna, sometimes carries an infant. She may ask you to hold her baby. You must do so gently and lovingly or the child will vanish and Nure-Onna will attack.
Nure-Onna has the head of a long-haired woman atop a very long serpentine body. Like a snake, she periodically sticks out her long tongue as if tasting the air. However, she is a shape-shifter who can take various forms, including that of a beautiful woman—in which shape, she may deliberately lure victims toward her. The tip-off to her identity is that her hair is always wet.
Encyclopedia of Spirits: The Ultimate Guide to the Magic of Fairies, Genies, Demons, Ghosts, Gods & Goddesses– Written by :Judika Illes Copyright © 2009 by Judika Illes.
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